On Complaining

Attitudes matter.

I keep starting and re-starting this post, because I'm not exactly sure how to say what I want to say here.  I've written before about the problem with venting and about being careful not to spout off careless words.  But this week I was reminded again of how much I stink at controlling my tongue.  And my attitudes - because the venting, careless words ultimately come from my poor attitudes.

What I hadn't thought about before was how much my bad attitudes can wear off onto those around me.  And it's becoming painfully obvious as I think over the last few weeks.

This has mostly taken the form of me over-explaining my woes to those I love, to the point where they start to get irritated for me.  Although sweet in a way, it's not good that I'm recruiting others in my life to carry my self-imposed burdens.

Most of the things I'm frustrated about or disappointed with are indeed frustrating or disappointing things.  But does that mean I have to display my frustration for all to see and to pour my burden onto someone else to the point where they start to adopt my attitudes about the whole situation?  

Something happened this past week that made it all the more obvious to me that my bad attitudes don't just affect me.  They affect those around me, especially those within my own household.  

The truth is, complaining about certain situations can make it more difficult for those close to you to remain at peace with the circumstances.  In my case, though they try to encourage me, I just won't be encouraged, and my complaining eventually changes their attitudes as well.

It's a power I never consciously realized I had - to affect the attitudes of those in my family in a negative way through my own attitudes.  I haven't been handling that power responsibly.

It's a fine line to walk - the difference between bearing one another's burdens in marriage and unnecessarily burdening one another with our complaints.  We really aren't supposed to be complaining anyway (Philippians 2:14).  Even to our spouses.

I think it would be much better to discuss situations with my spouse, take it to the Lord together in prayer, then let it go.  

It's the letting go part that is hard.  Instead I continue to sit there even after supposedly handing it over to the Lord - griping about things I can't change.  That's not helping anyone - not me, not my family.  I need to give it to Him and then stop complaining.  Just stop.

Goodness knows the psalmists did quite a bit of venting to God when they were scared or frustrated or lost.  But one thing I noticed as I was reading through some of the "complaining" psalms - once they poured out their hearts to God, they remembered God's power.  They remembered His faithfulness.  They let Him be the one to bear their burdens.


He needs to be the One I go to first - I need to give Him my burdens from the start instead of letting the default be dumping things on my family (and then maybe remembering to pray about it).  

If I'm feeling irritated or overwhelmed about something, a little private "venting" time to God would be okay I think.  

Because I can't change God's attitude, but He can change mine.  And that's what I need help with in the first place.
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Emily grapes said...

This is something I've been thinking on for the past couple months now and more so the past couple weeks. It's sad but I've vented to God and not feeling like it was enough, went to a friend or a family member, just so I could hear that response back. It's a short validation, but afterward I get disappointed I didn't just trust in God with my vent.

I marvel at the psalmists who were able to surrender it all to God. Maybe sometimes they didn't, its hard to say, but its a good none the less, I could definitely do better at having a better attitude and going to God rather than those around me.
Know you're not alone. :)

Sarah said...

Great post, Callie! This spoke to my current situation and gave me a godly direction to follow. Just what I need right now. Thanks!!

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

whew, i needed this. "speak life" has been a phrase that's been convicting me and (i hope) changing me the past few weeks. i am a huge complainer, and although my husband is patient with me, i know it affects him. it's a heart issue - words just flowing from a heart that craves an easy life vs. a life God wants me to have. thanks for your honesty and sharing your struggles, which are common to all of us!

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